By Pastor Adam Van Dop
Pam and I got married on May 29, 2004, seventeen and a half years ago. Our wedding ceremony, and our marriage, was and is based upon 1 John 4:19. We even found a ink pad stamp with the verse on it for our handmade invitations.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19 | ESV
God’s love came first, long before any of us came about. In this world, there are over 7.7 billion people currently, and Google estimates that there have been 107 billion people to ever live, and God’s love has been extended to every single human, ever! God also gave each person the ability to extend that love to each other. And yet, look at the course of history at how much hate that humanity has had for each other. It is super interesting to take note that for us, in each of our relationships and moments, our ability to love is based upon the fact that God loved us first.
I can love my wife,
I can love my children,
I can love my coworkers,
I can love my neighbors,
only because God loved me first.
John tells us that without God exuding His tremendous love for us, we simply would not have a clue about what love really means, or even how to express it. Consider once again the first moments in the days after creation. God had just created everything, and He looked upon all that He made, including Adam & Eve, and its written,
God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
Genesis 1:31 | ESV
Then the fall happened, and that goodness was lost, humanity was separated from God. Over the next 38 books of the Old Testament, God was regularly filled with disappointment and grief over His children. However, God’s love for His children never waned. He remained in full pursuit of His chosen nation. Then the moment happened that was foreseen coming all through the Old Testament, Jesus came. Paul writes to his audience in Philippi, speaking of Christ’s coming,
Though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:6-7 | ESV
Paul doesn’t stop there, and neither does Christ’s life. Jesus didn’t come just to be like one of us, to see what being a human was all about. Jesus came, personifying perfection, in order to be the final sacrifice made so that we don’t have to ever experience the pain and torment that true separation from God the Father would actually be. Paul continues,
And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8 | ESV
You see, God’s love for us is so great that He gave up His child, His perfect child, for us. John points out, that because He did just that, we are able to love our spouses, our children, our friends, and our neighbors. May you in this Christmas season, find the time to express your love to the all the people that you are close to, knowing that you have received the greatest gift of all time, Christ’s love!